Back in "the old days"—a time period which includes the Arts & Crafts period—maintaining and managing fire(s) was an important task. Fires might be used for lighting, cooking, heating, manufacturing and other industrial tasks. And sometimes one needed to "transfer" (or spread) a fire from one place to another. In a wood-burning fireplace or stove, a "Cape Cod" style "fire starter," like the one shown above, was a useful tool to have in the household. The "pitcher"—this one is hand-hammered steel in the Arts & Crafts style—would hold a supply of lamp oil. A wrought-iron "wand," with a soapstone "egg" at one end, would soak in the lamp oil, thus absorbing a good amount of the fuel. This wand would be taken out of the oil can, lighted, and, once flaming, it could be placed into the fireplace (or wood stove) to ignite the wood with a minimum of kindling required. The fuel-soaked egg would burn for about 5 or 10 minutes (without re-dipping), usually enough time to get some of the smaller logs burning. This Arts & Crafts example, made in Boston circa 1900 - 1910's, has an old, rustic look—not unlike something that may have been seen in an earlier, primitive cabin or farmstead. This version has a convenient hanging slot which allows it to be hung on a nail or screw on the wall. It was made by Howes of Boston, a company which made a range of fireplace and hearth-related metalworks. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248